Meghalaya High Court: In a petition, filed by father of the victim (petitioner 1) and the accused (petitioner 2) under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (‘CrPC’), seeking to quash criminal proceedings under Sections 5 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (‘POCSO’), against the accused, W. Diengdoh, J., dismissed the petition, refused to quash the criminal proceedings on the ground that there is nothing on record to show that the victim was taken into consideration or confidence before filing the present petition.
The accused and the victim both belong to Garo Community. The victim aged 14 years used to frequently visit the accused’s house as the accused was married to the victim’s aunt. During such visits, an alleged romantic relationship developed between the two and the victim girl was impregnated by the accused that resulted in delivery of a child on 25-08-2020.The respondent3, who is the member secretary of the Child Welfare Committee, filed a First Information Report (‘FIR’), informing the police of the fact that the victim was impregnated by accused and that she is still a 14-year-old teenager. Thereafter, a criminal case was registered under Sections 5 and 6 of POCSO Act against petitioner 2.
The present petition was filed seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings on the grounds that in the Garo community, it is customary for a man to marry more than one wife, in many cases, apart from being married to his wife, he may have to marry his widowed mother-in-law, on the death of his father-in-law and can marry up to three wives. Therefore, polygamy is not frowned upon in the community.
Other grounds for filing the petition are that there is a love relationship between the accused and the victim girl, and secondly, they are living under the same roof and having a child, thus, continuing with the criminal proceedings would cause hardship and would jeopardize their lives and family considering the fact that they are a young couple and finally, it is the father of the victim girl who has approached the Court proving bonafide of the petitioners’ case.
The Court noted that the facts which emerged from the records confirmed that the relationship between the petitioner 2/accused person and the alleged victim girl is that of uncle and niece. However,it was missing from the records that the accused’s wife had consented to the alleged relationship as required under the customary practice as well as there is no mention regarding the objection by the parents of the victim girl.
Moreover, the Court noted that the father was not authorized by the victim in any manner to file the said petition, and thus, the Court said that it cannot be presumed that father was speaking on behalf of victim. Placing its reliance on the victim’s statement under Section 164 of CrPC, the Court said that the victim had related to only one occasion of sexual intercourse with accused and in one line statement, she did say that she loved him, she did not say anything related to getting married and staying together. However, in her deposition made before the Trial Court, the victim said that in the year 2018, the accused came to her house when no one was there and had sexual intercourse with her. The second time was when the accusedsuddenly came to the banana fields and had sexual intercourse with her. In cross-examination she also stated that she had sexual intercourse with him at his house when she stayed overnight.
The Court also noted that the accused had threatened her to not reveal about the incident to anyone, else he will beat her, thus, the Court said that this is not a sign of love relationship between the two young persons and that there was no indication of any intention on the part of the victim to get married to the accused..
Thus, the Court dismissed the petition as being devoid of any document placed on record to show the confidence of the victim before filing the present petition.
[Honil Marak v. State of Meghlaya, 2023 SCC OnLine Megh 162, decided on 11-04-2023 ]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Advocate S. Deb;
For the Respondent: Additional Advocate General B. Bhattacharjee, Additional Public Prosecutor S. Sengupta.